Repeating a costly mistake?

  • PM’s retention of interior ministry to divide focus

Imran Khan has begun his innings as the country’s chief executive with a glut of unenviable problems that from the outset prevent an exclusive attention to his ambitious agenda of building a corruption-free new Pakistan, a daunting task  demanding the lion’s share of his time, energy, political will and grey matter. He has to carry his vision  forward, instill the right spirit of change and reform among his ministerial colleagues and party rank and file, apart from shouldering the sheer volume of routine administrative work which being PM entails. The watchful media and commentators are keeping a hawk-like gaze on his every action and decision, while the electorate and general citizens entertain heightened expectations of success.

Seen in this light, every mistake assumes mammoth proportions, and comparisons with the preceding Sharif government are inevitable. Hence, the prime minister’s holding control of the interior ministry, a formidable full-time post in itself, has drawn criticism from those who remember the long-lasting damage inflicted on Pakistan’s international relations, especially with Washington, by the former prime minister not appointing a foreign minister for four years. While the PM may have the right reasons and arguments, the negative aspects of this additional obligation cannot be ignored. For instance, the interior ministry has to contend timely and effectively with such diverse, complex matters as the recent protest by tribesmen in Miranshah over alleged killing of a protesting citizen and injuries to ten others by law enforcement agencies, an incident that highlights a wider problem of Pashtun grievances, the threatened ‘decisive march’ of Tehreek-i-Labbaik on Wednesday from Lahore – Islamabad and sit-in over a Dutch legislator’s blasphemous cartoon competition, and putting the owners of Shaheen Airlines on Exit Control List lest they attempt to flee after committing reported massive tax fraud. The interior ministry should be delegated immediately, as it constitutes a worrisome detour and distraction from the PM’s primary goals. ‘When the winds of change blow, build windmills and not walls’.